Story Summary:
Lucius abducts Hermione. Slytherin versus Gryffindor - Pureblood versus Muggleborn - the old order versus the new. Two opposites, one room, no way out... no holds barred.

Chapter 09 - Control

Chapter Summary:
Lucius abducts Hermione.
Author's Note:
So, this is where Hermione finally finds out what Lucius was up to. Kudos to Nemo Returning, who

Author's Notes: So, this is where Hermione finally finds out what Lucius was up to. Kudos to Nemo Returning, who worked out almost all the details.
Thank you, as always, to my beta-reader Hijja. Hermione fans among you should check out her one-shot Censorship, especially if you enjoyed 'my' Hermione's memories of her home life.


~ Invictus ~
by Chthonia

Part 9: Control

I blink groggily in the dim light.

Have I been asleep? For how long? I need to work out what he was doing with the dragon's blood!

There's an odd warm weight on my shoulder. It disappears as I raise my head.

"Sleeping when you should be studying, Mudblood?" he asks coldly.

Was that his hand on my shoulder?

I twist round to look at him. But there's no expression on his face, except for an arched, mocking eyebrow.

"Dear me, that really isn't the way to impress your teachers, is it? Stand up."

I do, rubbing my neck and staggering a little. I hadn't realised I was so tired. What was I reading just before I fell asleep? I'm sure it was important, or perhaps I'd just thought it was going to be important, or...?

Oh God. I've run out of time! And I still don't understand.

He points at the other chair. I take my place. He settles into his, smiling languidly over steepled fingers.

"So, let's start again, shall we? Good evening, Mudblood."

I stare at him.

"Is it? I mean... Good Evening." I wind a strand of hair round my finger and tug slightly, willing myself awake. This is bizarre. What's he playing at now?

He makes an ostentatious flourish with his wand, and two goblets appears on the table. He picks one up and takes a sip.

"Would you care for a drink, Mudblood?"

What? Is he bored of being a complete bastard, or does he just want to feed me another noxious potion?


He shrugs elegantly. "Have it your way." He flicks his wand and the goblet on the table vanishes. Then he reaches forward and closes the book with a thud, stroking down the spine with one long black-clad finger.

"So," he murmurs, "have you finished your assignment? I've so been looking forward to hearing what you have to say about it."

I swallow, dry mouthed.

"I... I... May I ask a question?"


"But... but there's nothing in the book about dragons-"

"I said, no," he snaps. "You can tell me what you think, and I will tell you if you're wrong. Lessons always leave a more lasting impression when you're – corrected – than if someone just tells you the answer, don't you find?" He grins at me, twirling his wand in his right hand.

No, he obviously isn't bored of being a complete bastard. What am I going to say?

"Assuming," he continues, "that you haven't been sleeping all this time? Because if you really have nothing to contribute to a civilised discussion, I'm sure we could find an alternative means of approaching the matter..."

Sod him! I'll show the bastard!

"You induced a... background imbalance, to produce a complementary emotional conjunction that would drive the Second-Derivative Hagalaz Vector in the degenerative direction," I say flatly, employing the terse language of formal runic analysis. I could just as easily have said you made me hate you, you bastard, and scared me so much I couldn't even think straight so that I'd respond in whatever way you wanted to whatever you said or did to me. But I'm fed up of him patronising me. Two can play at that game, and over the last few hours I've seen more than enough convoluted words to give me the terminology I need.

He blinks, and stares for a moment.

Then, "Why?"

"To polarise my Hagalaz Field into its destructive state, in order to allow you to derive the emotional outputs you required." So you could make me feel that I shouldn't have come here, that the School hadn't been fair when they didn't tell me about people like you, so that I'd even Repudiate my wand...

"For what purpose?"

"So those emotions could be imprinted in the residue of the potion."


"The Effundus spell."

"Which does what?"

"Well... Isn't that what it does?"


"I- I don't know."

"Not good enough, Mudblood. Hold out your hand."

He smiles – a horrible anticipatory smile – as I slide my left hand across the desk towards him. But the touch of his wand trailing across my fingers is light, leaving only a faint tingling.

"You missed something, little one," he says quietly, tracing small circles in the centre of my palm. "Did you try to cross the line?"


"So tell me, was it just 'emotional conjunctions' you felt?"

"No." That tingling sensation is starting to tickle.

"Go on. And don't move your hand."

"It was..." I shudder. It was like walking straight into the Cruciatus Curse. I don't even want to think about that.

"Pain?" he murmurs.

I nod.

"Anything else?"

"I... I just felt I shouldn't go there."

He smiles at me. "Excellent."

A sharp crack slices across my palm. I gasp and snatch it back. At least there's some warning, a split-second to prepare, when someone hits you physically.

"Leave your hand where it is, Mudblood. We haven't finished yet."

I push my hand jerkily back across the desk. My fingers are curled slightly, and he pushes them down against the wooden surface with his wand. There's a red line rising across my palm where the hex hit.

"Inducing the destructive Hagalaz state actually had two functions," he says, drawing his wand along the line on my hand. "One was as you... guessed. The other was to drive the Effundus spell itself."

Another whiplash across my palm. I can't completely suppress a yelp of pain, but I force myself to keep my arm still.

"You aren't going to forget that, now, are you?" he says, tracing over the rising new welt on my shaking hand.

"N- No."

"So, little one. Tell me how the spell works."

Oh God. I haven't a clue!

Think it through, Hermione.

I force myself to go over what happened, to visualise those blue-green strands of sparkling light moving down, through his wand and my head and my heart and my limbs and my mouth and down towards the cauldron.

"It linked... us, in some way..." I say slowly.

His eyes narrow in a sharp glare, but then he relaxes. "Hmm. I suppose it did. Why?"

"So you could direct the Vector?"

"Of course. But you fail to mention that convenient side-effect of making you even more sensitive to everything I said to you from then on."

Crack. Another line of pain from out of nowhere, cutting across the other two. I blink back tears and grip the dented wooden edge of my seat tightly, where he can't see it. I will not show him weakness.

"Ah, yes," he muses. "You do react so expressively... But do go on."

Go on? What did that spell do?

Effundo - I pour...

"So... the spell transferred... what I was feeling..." God, it's so hard to talk about it like this – "... into the potion." That much is clear, I think. But he said that the Hagalaz Field drove the spell. How?

Destruction... Imbalance of the mind...

And then I see it. It wasn't precisely me that the destructive power was aimed at.

"For the spell to carry my... reactions to the cauldron, it had to separate them from... me?" I say, following the links along that corroded chain of logic. "You used the destructive Hagalaz field to break the connection."

And how long does that effect last? Are my emotions still spinning off to God-knows-where?

No. It was the spell that did that. Wasn't it?

"Very good, Mudblood," he drawls. "But you needed rather too much help with that."

I cry out as his hex whips across my hand again. Precisely on top of the last one. When is he going to stop this?

"How do you expect me to remember anything when you-"

"Shut up! And you can stop whining, unless you want me to give you something to really scream about."

He trails his wand along the welt. Even that light touch is enough to make me shudder. I fix my eyes on the dense grain of the desk, on the roughly-cut pages of the closed book...

"Now, little one. I do believe you were going to ask me about dragon's blood. You should be able to answer your own question now, hmm?"

I blink, caught off-guard by the sudden change in subject.

Or is it? If the Effundus spell acted to split off my responses, then dragon's blood...

"It's a binding agent. So... it must have joined... the feelings... to the potion." I can't help glancing at that line on the floor. Dried blood and waves of pain...

"Not quite, Mudblood."

Again that whipcrack hex. And this time I scream. My skin is raw where the red lines cross, if he goes on like this it's going to start bleeding and still he sits there impassively insisting I submit to this...

He glares me into silence. His lips are pressed into a thin line.

"I thought I told you to be quiet?"

Oh God, what's he going to do now?

"I... I'm sorry." Please let that be enough.

I hang my head. Perhaps he'll take it as a gesture of contrition, though really it's the apology I'm ashamed of.

"You will be."

At least with my head bowed I don't have to look at his face as he sneers at me. He's such a complete and utter... He obviously revels in hurting me – why does he have to pretend that anything I do or say will make a difference to that?

"So, do you remember me saying that the Dark Lord had developed a thirteenth Use for dragon's blood?"


He laughs. "Of course, as it's really a variant application of the Sixth and Twelfth Uses, it's perhaps a slight exaggeration to classify it separately. I've never quite determined whether He did that to lord it over Dumbledore, or if He just felt an affinity with the number thirteen."

I stare at him. Did he really just say that? He's... he's a... Death Eater. Isn't he supposed to grovel admiringly at the Dark Lord's feet?

He stares at me icily. "But still, Mudblood, it is very apt to call it the Thirteenth Use. You are aware, I presume, that half of the Twelve Uses relate to Binding Spells. The others are more diverse, but could loosely be said to do the opposite."

He pauses. He seems to be waiting for a response, so I nod. I suppose he wants me to act as an attentive audience for his little lecture, and anyhow, listening to him is better than having him hex me.

"The Thirteenth Use, then, combines the two. He perfected the technique in Albania, I believe... It joins a soul, or a soul fragment such as a memory, to an object or place, and forges a connection that is loose – but completely unbreakable."

So that line... those memories can radiate out, reach across the room to fan my fear of them, but they will remain rooted in place, linked to the potion residue...

He's eyeing my outstretched hand. I tense for another blow, but he shakes his head.

"No, little one. I think we'll try a more – practical – exercise to let that lesson sink in. I want to see you cross that line."

"No! I mean... I can't."

He smiles. "Oh, but I think you can. And you will. Now."

Oh God. I can't, I really can't. Why doesn't he believe me? I'll just have to show him...

My mouth is suddenly very dry. What's he going to do to me when I can't do it? I'm damned either way. But that's the way it is with him – he has complete control, and there's no way out.

"I'm waiting."

Oh, what's the use? It's not as if he's going to listen to me if I just tell him.

I stand up and close my eyes and walk across the room. No point in thinking about it, after all, but I can't I can't and... I realise I've stopped moving. I try to put one foot forward and a bolt of pain judders up my leg as if I've trod on a high voltage cable. I can't. I wasn't imagining it – it really is that bad.

"Just a few inches further, little one," he mocks.

"I can't," I tell him, half sobbing. I keep my eyes closed. I don't want to see how close I am.

I hear his chair scrape on the stone, and the sound of his footsteps coming towards me. I tremble as he circles around me.

Around me?

I open my eyes and stare at him. He's on the other side of the line.

"That's right, Mudblood," he says. "It doesn't affect me at all. I belong here, you see."

What's that supposed to mean?

He paces round to stand behind me.

"Now, as I was saying," he hisses in my ear, "you don't have very much further to go at all." And he pushes me forward.


The spell is lashing viciously up my legs and I twist to the side, ducking away, but he catches me by the wrist and pulls me back to face him.

"Dear me," he says, changing his grip so that he's holding both my wrists, one in each gloved hand, "we are being disobedient, aren't we?"

"No!" Please don't let him take this out on Mum and Dad. "I'm not, really, I'll do whatever you say but I can't do that..."

"Oh, but you can, little one."

And he extends his arms, slowly, forcing me to take a step backwards, and then another... and I twist my wrists upwards and around, trying to pull out of his grip but he's too strong, I knew it was useless and there's a searing heat flaring up my back and
the world explodes in fire and shards of pain
God, God, I can't-
I'm thrashing away from
the tiger claws tearing into my back stop stop but
still there's his red-hot iron grip on my wrists pushing
pushing me further back
into this nightmare of
burning, slicing, screaming-

He pulls me forward. Out. My knees are giving way and I just want to sink to the floor but he's holding me up, forcing me to stand in front of him, shaking.

please... Please...

I gasp as a sheet of fire slices down my spine. That spell even captured the bloody aftershocks.

He catches both my wrists in his left hand. With his right he touches his wand to my forehead, and gently lifts away a strand of hair that's stuck to my skin. "Perhaps you're right after all, Mudblood," he murmurs.

Oh, thank God for that.


and the pain floats away... and his mind cradles mine
...and I know that I want to help all I can...and
he knows it too... for he smiles at me now...
and I smile back as he turns me around
...and still I can feel his mind upon mine
as he tells me to walk, so I
I can't
but there's nothing to fear... that's what he says I take a step forward...
Don't, don't
it's like standing barefoot on a kitchen knife-
...but it's not really there... as his thoughts stroke on mine
and the agony fades... I'm safe with him here, so I move my foot forward-
Oh God. I can't do this.
Acid droplets splatter across my skin and I have to wash them off-
. ..But This Is NOT REAL... so I just need to walk-
But it's eating into my flesh and it hurts, it hurts
it bloody well hurts I have to get away-
but the pain fades away... because it's not really there
and all that I need... is to do as he says... and then I'll be safe-
Go back! Go back, Go back go back goback goback-
...but there's food over there, and he wants me to eat...
so I reach out my hand
And a knife slices right through my wrist and I'm screaming and pulling away
Away, I have to get away, I don't belong here, I should never have come here-
...but I HAVE to go on... that's what he says-
But I can't, it'll tear me apart!
...though he says that it won't... that my hand is all right
and it is, it's still there... though it's hurting so much
but I can deal with the pain!...with his mind holding mine
..and leading me on-

"No, No! NOOOO..."

That silk-smooth voice in my head shatters in the explosion of agony as I stumble forwards and
My bones are burning, unbearable heat to liquefy steel
molten metal engulfing me stop, stop falling, grasping at the
cool, cool stone floor but it's knives, knives, nothing but slicing
blades as I try to crawl forwards, away, but there is no away
just a long plunge down
through a pit of flame with the promise of darkness at the end.

But... but... the world is still here. Spinning sickeningly, but the floor stretched out beneath me, rough against my cheek... is just a stone floor.

I shudder at the memory.

I must have blacked out for a moment. That was how it ended last time. Did I cross the line then?

Line. End. End of the line. Wish it was.

Must have crossed it. No more pain. Just my throat that feels as if it's been scraped out with sandpaper.

Oh God. Does that mean I'll have to go back over it?

Might not be as bad as coming this way.

Might be worse.

I flinch as something brushes my leg. His robe.

"That was a most informative demonstration, Mudblood, especially as seen from inside your mind," says his voice, floating somewhere above me. "You seem to have quite a reaction to it."

Oh, why can't he just leave me alone?

"Of course," he continues, "you would do, given that the memories were yours to begin with. You knew what it was going to feel like, after all. The effect should be considerably less – dramatic – on others."


I sit up. He crouches down beside me.

"Yes, little one," he says softly, "I meant it when I said that you'd done your fellow Mudbloods a great service. Now that you know how wrong you were to come here, you wouldn't want anyone else to make the same mistake, now, would you?"

Oh... oh no.

I stare at him, horrified.

I'm sure you'll be only to glad to serve as a warning, is what I remember him saying. And I thought he was going to make me do something horrible under Imperius, or something, but he didn't really mean me, not in person.

"That's right," he grins. "As I was saying yesterday, letting every Muggle walking into Diagon Alley experience that should reduce the number of Mudblood freaks we have to deal with."

Oh God.

"You're... you're going to put that" – I point at the line of powder – "in Diagon Alley?"

"My, my – we are being intelligent today, aren't we?"

"You can't!"

"Oh, I think you'll find that I can."

"And you really think that no one's going to notice?"

He shrugs. "It only works on Mudbloods, remember. Only on outsiders who know they don't belong – just like you."

Is he saying that the reaction is triggered when the victims feel they don't belong? But that doesn't make sense. All I remember of my first visit to Diagon Alley was being excited by how new and strange it all was. I never thought I didn't belong, even after the ferret called me a Mudblood in second year. Not even after what he did to me yesterday.

"But... I only said that because you made me."

"I only made you face the truth you were too stubborn to see. From the moment you set foot in the Alley you knew you were inferior to us. Would you really have memorised every book you could lay your hands on if you hadn't felt you had something to prove?"

That's not fair! I only wanted to make sure I wasn't behind everyone else.

He smiles.

"So, as I was saying... we concentrate on areas frequented mainly by – new arrivals – and they won't even be able to recognise the reaction as magic. And as for the more experienced ones... well, most of them haven't the wit to work it out either, and bear in mind that the experience will be very much milder for them than it is for you. Anxiety, unexplained cramps, nightmares... no one's going to be falling down screaming in the street, amusing as that would be to watch. No, they – and especially their parents – will just be left with a vague but compelling feeling that the wizarding world is not a pleasant place to be and that they'd be far better off renouncing their wands and staying in the Muggle world where they belong."

"But someone will see the powder..."

"Don't be stupid. I certainly won't be using it in anything like that kind of concentration." He gestures at the dark line on the floor. "Who's going to notice a few more grains of dust in a dusty street? And if they do... well, they won't be able to trace it back to me, and once the Dark Lord has cleaned out those Ministry riffraff, it's hardly going to be relevant anyway."

"But my blood is in it!"

"Oh, so it is." He grins. "Don't worry, little one, I think the process of brewing the potion will have rendered that quite unrecognisable. Although there's a chance it could be traced if... well, I have that little problem in hand. And even if anyone did realise that you were the... donor, it doesn't mean they'd be able to find you, does it?"

This is... monstrous. Ever since I got my Hogwarts letter I've done my best to fit in, and now he's using me to do more harm to Muggleborn integration than anyone since Salazar Slytherin. And there's nothing I can do about it. I hate him!

But I can't let myself hate him, can I? Oh God.

He reaches towards me – and draws back, twisting those black fingers into the dark folds of his robe. I curl my fingers tightly around my ankle. I want to move away, but I daren't.

"Yes, Mudblood, I've been waiting for this opportunity for years." He smiles at me, so falsely honeyed that it turns my stomach, and yet somehow I... I can't look away. "And you more than exceeded expectations, little one. You're quite as talented as I was led to believe, but combined with such malleable naiveté... I'd even go so far as to grade your performance as 'Outstanding'."


"And you're going to go on giving me outstanding performances, aren't you?" he murmurs. "Only next time it will be so much sweeter, because you'll understand exactly what's happening, and you'll know how completely powerless you are to stop it." He carefully brushes my hair away from my cheek. "And by combining that awareness with the way you... respond, I think we'll be able to put you to work driving far more powerful magic than Effundus."

That's obscene.

But... but it does mean that I was right, earlier. He is explaining all this to me to make me lose myself in a tangled labyrinth of hate. And that means that there is a way out!

Unless that's just what he wants you to think?

There's one way to find out.

"Not if I reversed the Vector," I tell him. Not if I refuse to hate you.

He stares at me for a few seconds, brow slightly furrowed, clearly searching for my meaning first in English and then in practical terms. Then he laughs.

"That's impossible!"

No. It can't be.

"And there I was, thinking you had some modicum of intelligence," he sneers. "You can't reverse a Hagalaz Vector once the emotional conjunctions are set – all you can do is counter its effects with a stronger Vector. Every wizard knows that."

Now it's my turn to stare as my mind filters his words into something comprehensible. What he's implying is that hatred itself is irreversible, that the only way to meet it is with more hatred, more violence. And that, in terms Ron might use, is complete bollocks.

"But... how can you possibly think that?" I ask. "Haven't you ever heard of Gandhi?"

"Of what?"

No... I don't suppose he would have. Why would someone like him think he had anything to learn from a Muggle?

But does that mean he really believes that violence is the only way to settle anything? Every wizard knows that... does that include Ron? His Dad? That... that would explain so much – the brawl in Flourish and Blotts, Ron's insistence that Harry had to duel the ferret back in first year...

God. What a bleak, empty view of life. No wonder wizarding society is in such a state.

Professor Dumbledore doesn't think like that, I'm sure he doesn't. But then, Professor Dumbledore is open-minded enough to read Muggle newspapers.

"So you really think you can reverse a Hagalaz Vector." He stands up, laughing nastily. "That's the most ridiculous, ignorant piece of Muggle-inspired nonsense I've ever heard. And I really thought I'd heard it all."

And who is he to call anyone ignorant, when he can hardly see past his own Manor gate? As if there's any logic to his view of the world! Can't he see?

"But... if you think we're that ridiculous, why do you find us so threatening?"

Bad move.

"You. Are. Not. A. Threat. To. Me!" he snarls, punctuating every word with a stab of his wand. "Look at you, snivelling on the floor! What in the name of Darkness do you think you could do to me? You even Repudiated your wand! No real witch would do that!"

That's so unfair. Repudiation was invented by purebloods, and plenty of 'real witches' have done it when they've had to. It's a perfectly valid way of preventing an opponent using your own wand against you – though rather a desperate one.

"What, so you dare to disagree with me, do you?" he sneers.

I look at the floor. I'm not going to volunteer to say anything when he's in this mood.

"Answer me!" he snaps, grabbing a handful of hair and jerking my head up.


"Any witch would do it, in that situation. Even Ingrid the Invincible did it once!"

And I'm not going to be ashamed of it!

His scornful laughter rings around the room. "Are you convincing yourself, Mudblood? Because you're not convincing me. Repudiation is a last resort, and always has been. I'd never allow myself to be threatened like that."

Oh no, of course he wouldn't. If he hadn't been able to get out of here without a wand...

I strenuously resist the urge to raise an eyebrow. But I don't have to – my sceptical silence speaks loudly enough. He flings me to the floor with a snarl of rage.

"I'll show you how much of a threat you are, you know-it-all little bitch! Crucio!"

broken glass crammed down my throat
slashing gouging suffocating screaming
bloody core a pillar of pain noooo
tearing through vein, bone, gut
everything shredding from inside out
stop stop i can't hold on-

I'm on the floor. I put my hand to my mouth. It comes away red. Bloody. ohmygod

No, it's okay, it's okay. I bit myself, that's all...

oh God. Shit.

I take a deep breath, the air burning my lungs like acid. And then I cough and cough and cough and the agony is multiplied a hundredfold.

I clench my fists and squeeze my eyes closed and wait for the shuddering to stop.

I think I hit a nerve. He's never lost it quite that spectacularly before.

He's never let himself.

Oh God.

He crouches down beside me. Seizes my hair again. No pain at all, not compared to...

He forces me to look at him. Cold and hard as ice, now.

"See how helpless you are, Mudblood?" he sneers. "And I can see you hate me for that. Don't try to deny it."

Oh, I hate you all right, you sadistic bastard. If only I had a wand, I'd show you...

He pushes me away and stands up.

"But if you really want to waste your time trying to change that, don't let me stop you. I'm sure we can make that into a most amusing little game. But I can tell you now that you haven't got a chance of winning. It can't be done."

He's clutching his left arm, I notice, just like Professor Snape does sometimes. He drops his hand as he sees me looking.

"No one can reverse that sort of working once it's started, Mudblood. No one."

Very deliberately, he points his wand towards me. I try not to look scared. I probably fail.

He sneers down at me. "Nox."

His Disapparating pop is loud in the darkness.


What happens now?

I should never have told him my stupid idea about not hating him – it looks as if the bastard's going to take that as a challenge. But he was being so bloody smug.

And then he lost it. Because he hates me.

And I think it is me he hates. Me, Hermione Granger: for being everything he does find threatening, and for daring to speak the truth about it. Some of that felt far too... personal, just to come out of his general loathing of Muggleborns.

Great. So I'm going to get the full force of his hatred, any time he wants to get something out of his system.

Like he did just now. Hate is a sign of weakness, not power. And hating him didn't exactly work for me, did it? I can't fight him that way. He's too powerful.


So what can I do?

Mum and Dad always said that hate is caused by ignorance – that's part of the reason they encouraged me to study so much. I suppose that's how they were so open-minded about letting me go to Hogwarts.

And I would still have done that, even if I had known about him. I'd just have been a lot more bloody careful, that's all.

So, if I'm trying not to hate the bastard, I need to know more about him, I suppose. And not just in terms of 'what-is-he-going-to-do-to-me-now'. Seeing him just as a sadistic bastard Death Eater is as bad as him seeing me just as an ignorant Mudblood.

But he is a sadistic bastard Death Eater. And you've never done anything to him.

But... he doesn't see it that way, does he?

Who cares about his twisted justifications for what he does? It doesn't make it any better, does it?

Of course not. But this isn't about him. Hating him is harming me. Judging his actions by how I choose to react to him makes as much sense as judging myself worthless because that's what he thinks.

He doesn't think you're worthless though, does he? He wants to use you.

I really don't want to think about that.

But... at least it means he's reacting to me as an individual. And there has to be some hope in that, surely? I'm not up against some rigid, anonymous system, but a person with a face.

And a name.

A name.

Funny how hard it is even to think it.

Names have power.


And that's why you have to use it.

I suppose.

You shouldn't be afraid of a name.


Lucius Malfoy.

I roll the words round in my mind.

It feels almost blasphemous.

Blasphemous? What, so you've started worshipping him now, have you?

God, no. It's just that, well, he's the only person I've seen for... weeks, probably, apart from Macnair who's more animal than human. And, and... I don't know. He's all there is.

Lucius Malfoy.

It sends a shiver up my spine.

I heard those words so often in Grimmauld Place, especially from Ron's dad. Lucius Malfoy, the Death Eater that got away with it. Lucius Malfoy, buying off the Minister. Lucius Malfoy, one-day-he'll-get-what-he-deserves. Lucius Malfoy, Public Enemy Number... two.

But now... it's hard to link the name to the face. It doesn't fit, somehow. What did I know about Lucius Malfoy, back then?

What did any of them know about Lucius Malfoy, really?

It's too political, I suppose, that's the problem. 'Lucius Malfoy' always stood in my mind for the Other Side. One of Them. Someone who looked down on my parents and me for no reason. Someone who almost got me killed in second year. But even that was never personal.

And now there's 'the bastard', who revels in inflicting pain beyond anything I could have imagined, and then mocks me for reacting. But I don't have a name for him, for the creature that stares calmly into my eyes with such depths of hatred, as if he wants to devour me completely...

But I have to call him something. I can't just keep thinking 'him', as if he rules me so completely I can't see him as just a person. As if he's completely beyond comprehension.

That's right. He's just an ordinary, vicious, narrow-minded bigot. He just has more power than most of them.

No. Never 'ordinary'.

Lucius. Lucius Malfoy. I can't just call him... by his first name. It seems too, well, personal, almost as if that would invite him... in. And the last thing I want to do is bring him closer.

But 'Malfoy' is the school bully. A spoilt brat. Annoying, and not exactly harmless, but between him and his father is a deep dark ocean of difference. And 'Mr Malfoy' would make him seem... civilised, due the respect given to any random stranger. And he's not.

It has to be 'Lucius Malfoy' then.

There, it's getting easier. And I'm not going abbreviate it, to his initials or something. That would be hiding again.

Names have power.

"I won't hate you, L-Lucius Malfoy," I say aloud.

But the darkness around me swallows the words, and gives no answer.